A few years ago – when I first really started to look at email marketing and list building – there were some established players.
Mailchimp was always the go-to for people just starting because they had (and still have a free tier).
Aweber seemed the most popular mailing provider amongst internet marketers.
You had some other established ones like GetResponse and Constant Contact.
And you had some more advanced whole CRM suites like Infusionsoft, Ontraport and Hubspot – although it was still relatively new at that time.
Then you had Active Campaign.
It seemed to bridge the gap between some of them.
They didn’t have a free tier (and still don’t) but they were matching Aweber’s prices and email deliverability (what % of emails reach the list’s inboxes instead of spam folders).
They had – and still have – an awesome drag and drop email sequence builder.
So like my soap opera sequence, it’s easy to lay things out.
Things have changed a bit since then.
With my current plotting and planning and multiple ventures, with email marketing a core part of it, I need an easy-to-use and reliable email provider and for me, Active Campaign has stopped being that.
There was a bit of a double whammy which got me to start looking for alternatives recently.
The Active Campaign API Doesn’t Work With My Website
I won’t dive into the tech of it here but basically an API is something that allows 2 bits of software to talk to each other and integrate so you can automatically transfer stuff between the 2 softwares.
So I use an app on my websites to create a mailing list sign up form (because making good looking forms is much easier in the app) and then integrate the mailing software to automatically transfer data over and get my contacts into my mailing lists.
Except Active Campaign for some reason all of a sudden stopped working smoothly and no one was able to help me figure out why.
(Aweber does indeed work fine for me on this.)
It sucks but I could still have a workaround.
I can create the form in the mailing provider and use their code to copy and paste it into the website so it’d still get people onto my mailing list.
Active Campaign Doesn’t Let You Remove Their Branding
That’s a slight lie.
By default, Active Campaign’s own forms automatically have the ‘Powered by Active Campaign’ branding and link on all their own optin forms.
Unless you go for their $80/month tier.
So even on their lower cost paid tiers you can’t take the branding off.
For comparison, Mailchimp allow you to have unbranded forms even on their free tiers.
If I’m already paying to use a software, I don’t expect to be paying them to promote their own product for them.
Support And Response Time
So the above 2 things were big deals for me and it’s what got me actively looking for alternatives.
I ended up back at Aweber.
And I realised they have 7 day support, all my questions seem to get answered in under 24 hours (usually A LOT less) AND they have live chat support so you can start speaking to someone instantly.
Active Campaign – I sent a support request on a Saturday and got a response on Monday.
Ease Of Use
For someone that needs a more advanced CRM, I’m not sure.
But for me, where it is purely for managing email lists and marketing, I’ve started to find Aweber a lot easier.
Their interface loads a lot more quickly, their drag and drop sequencing is a lot better and a lot cleaner.
With Active Campaign I need to open an automation, wait for it to load, click on an email, wait for the pop up to load (by this point, in Aweber I’m already in and editing the email), click to edit the email, wait for it to load, edit it and then save it and then repeat the process as I exit the screen.
Active Campaign is slow, lagging and a bit tedious.
Aweber feels a lot more lightweight and quick loading than it used to and I’m all for it.
Moving From Active Campaign To Aweber
I don’t have too many contacts in Active Campaign so it was easy to transfer that over.
And then it was just a case of going into Aweber and:
- Setting up my relevant lists
- Copying and pasting my email sequences
- A little bit of tinkering and wording changes
- Updating my tags
- New sign up forms
And that was it.
It didn’t take me long – and if it was going to take me longer, Aweber do also offer a free migration service to help you out.
So To Wrap Up
Aweber has a free tier and a free trial. Active Campaign has a full feature free trial.
So it might be worth trying both and seeing which one you prefer using, which one suits your needs more and which one you find more user friendly for you.
I’ve found Aweber to be a ton better for what I need it for. At least for the time being.
That may change in future but for now, I think I’m good with the solution I’ve got.